DIGITAL digest 4-01
PI: What are the main areas of difference in dealing with the Consumer Imaging business versus Graphic Systems?
Stabler: Most of our consumer imaging business in North America is business-to-business. We deal with professional photo finishers and wholesale finishing laboratories.
Even though the technologies and market obviously are different, the business proposition—of a complete, integrated system approach—is very similar for both groups.
The core competencies of the organizations are very similar across all of Agfa's business units. We coat material and produce systems and software around materials to deliver compelling solutions to our customers.
PI: You said printers are looking for solutions. As you bring those to market, do you see any change needing to be made in terms of Agfa working through dealers versus direct sales?
Stabler: We will continue to work through dealers, and we want to develop much closer relationships with our dealers. As we are starting to sell much more of the intangibles and consulting with clients—and selling more products that require consultation—our dealers, being impartial arbiters of what is happening in the market, are in a very strong position to actually deliver those messages.
PI: Are you talking about offering business/technical consulting to clients as a standalone service?
Stabler: We do consulting as a standalone service now, but I'm thinking more in terms of the orientation of the business and how we present ourselves.
What concerns printers the most is the shifting technology—when to invest, what to invest in, getting good operators, etc. Printers are looking to strip out costs and become more efficient. They are trying to differentiate themselves against the competition.
I don't think there is one dominant technology or one dominant way to go in serving the marketplace. In the digital world, the decision-making process is much more complex. I see our role as offering consulting if customers need it.